I always hear that ladies like Latin lovers, but after a quick perusal of the sexy, hand-finessed artistry comprising the John Neeman knife gallery I'll bet the outdoorsy girls out there are going to be on the lookout for a Latvian lover. John Neeman, a manless name chosen for its broader international appeal, consists of a small crew of Latvian craftsmen who operate out of traditional workshops and use methods and techniques handed down through generations to hand forge, carve, and mold their blades, handles, and sheaths. The smiths hope anyone holding one of their small batch hunting knives will "remember how to use their hands, to relate their own human energy to their tools--to achieve the true joy of creating something from humble beginnings, as we did."
At printing, John Neeman had around 20 of what they term "Wildlife Knives" available through their web shop. All come in a wet formed leather sheath that has been custom made and hand stitched by a tannery near the blade shop. Some highlights:
Hunters Knife. The blade contains 320 layers of hand-forged Damascus pattern welded steel, woven from 1095 and 15N20. Its handle is hand-shaped out of a block of stabilized curly Birch, thermally treated wood that grows Finland's Lapland. Overall length is 10", with blade and handle 5" apiece.
Nessmuk Skinner. Hand forged out of Swedish Elmax powder metallurgy steel, a high chromium, vanadium-molybdenum alloyed steel intended to resist wear and show high compressive strength, corrosion resistance, and dimensional stability. Cryogenic hardening gives the 5" blade a 61 HRC rating. The 5" Nessmuk Skinner handle consists of Cocobolo wood, Elk horn, and brass fittings.
Scandi Brother #3. The blade for this knife is forged from a round stock of German Silver Steel that sharpens to a razor edge. It has been ground by hand to a smoother shape and then heat treated and annealed to Rockwell 61 hardness. The third Scandi Brother has a hand-shaped curly Birch handle that, along with its sheath, wears the sign of Martin, a symbol of light and fire, from Latvian folklore.
Scandi Leuku. The Leuku is a knife used by hunters, herders (reindeer herders!), and fishermen in Lapland, Finland. Their large blades and thick handles make them strong enough to split bone and firewood alike. The blade is also precise enough to skin and clean game and fish. John Neeman's Leuku has a 7.6" blade made from a round stock of German silver steel and 5.4" handle carved from curly Birth, similar to that of Scandi Brother #3 above.
In addition to hunting knives, John Neeman fabricates kitchen knives, axes, bows, woodworking tools, and leather goods.